Good Forecasts Deliver More Than Just Numbers

“What market research is about is adding value to the business.” This line got me a job once. It’s a perspective easily lost in the myriad complications of conducting market research but a value researchers must hold dear. The context in which I obtained that job was customer satisfaction research. I was asked how I might handle the presentation of survey results in a sensitive situation where the audience would be hostile about the results. My response was that companies don’t survey clients because they want a page full of numbers. Companies survey clients because they want to learn how to serve them better — with the end result being increased sales. My presentation wouldn’t be about customer satisfaction scores; it would be about increasing sales.

 This is also a central theme for ForecastView. We have to remember, at the end of the day, that research and researchers are investments that companies make with shareholder money and that the end goal is a positive return on those investments. This applies to forecasts, as well. But this isn’t always easy because forecasts don’t always show steeply upward-sloping curves for all of the products our clients make.

 Indeed, Forrester’s recently published eReader forecast shows sales growth of dedicated eReader devices as fairly steady over the next five years. While an eReader may be optimal for reading eBooks, not all book readers benefit from or enjoy reading eBooks. Further, many people who are eager to read eBooks read them on PCs or mobile phones, and many eBook readers use multiple devices. What is valuable in this forecast is understanding that reading eBooks will be done on many devices — so the business opportunity goes far beyond the dedicated device category. ForecastView focuses not just on what will happen but also why. Armed with what and why, you’ll be ready to work with Forrester’s RoleView analysts to help you learn how to grow your business.

 Did you recently get into this situation of facing a potentially hostile audience? Did you manage to talk about the business instead of the numbers? I’d love to hear about your experiences.